When Kim Kardashian came to Lagos and “419ed the 419ers”

Eko Hotel, Victoria Island: the scene of so many expensive misdemeanours in the past, did its best not to disappoint. Kim Kardashian (pictured sailing into the salubrious Murtala Muhammed International Airport) was billed to “co-host” an event with R’n’B crooner Darey Art-Alade in honour of “Love..Like a Movie”. In other words, it was a “Vals” thing. Lagos being familiar to the metallurgy of snobbery, this involved platinum ticket holders being invited to an exclusive pre-dinner event with her K-ness. Pseudo-ogas lower down the corporate food chain only got to see the show.

I was just over a thousand miles away from the action in Freetown, watching my Twitter timeline cascade with commentary as the evening unfolded. Tweets purred with pleasure at the acrobatics segment, and at the godly qualities of Waje’s voice. There was a sense that in production values and packaging, Lagos had outblinged itself.

And then Ms Kardashian appeared, said, “hey Naija” and vamoosed. The rumour was that she’d been paid 500,000 Benjamins for the honour of mixing with the petro-class. She arrived on Saturday evening (on Air France), and left within twenty-four hours (someone Instagrammed her back at MMIA). Prole class tickets were apparently N100,000 ($640), although quite a few got in gratis on the guest list.

The Lagos elite blows money at puffery, while most of Nigeria suffers. It’s the same as it ever was. I recall Carlos Moore railing against the Gowon era on his trip to Nigeria a couple of years ago – how Lagosians were partying while bodies were lying unburied in the street. Gowon was famous at the time for saying that the problem in Nigeria was not money, but how to spend it.

Reflecting a little on the unfolding disappointment in Lagos, I couldn’t help but think that the narrow slice of KK the audience were granted reflects a cargo cult/import economy/colo-mentality, that dresses its shame in dandified arrogance. Last year, Hugh Masekela played the Motor Boat club. I was lucky to be there (I think I paid 15,000 naira for the privilege). People chatted noisily throughout. The great jazzman could hardly hide his disgust.

There’s something Dubai-esque about the children of the Islands. Pampered lives told in British public school brogues. Bubbles of air-conditioned comfort, which we might think of these days as “Lekki blindness”. Fela is long since dead, but his words rework themselves in the present with ease.

As the disgruntled tweets flowed out on my timeline, I thought of Special K, comfy in her jimjams, the plane rising gradually above the Atlantic, safe from all Lagos harm, smiling to herself that she’d actually 419’d the 419ers. And I went to bed with one final thought: oil turns all who touch it completely insane.

* You can follow Jeremy Weate on Twitter.


66 thoughts on “When Kim Kardashian came to Lagos and “419ed the 419ers”

  1. Er, hm, a “Benjamin” is equal to $100 American dollars. (Ben Franklin’s face is on the one-hundred dollar bill, hence the slang).

    “The rumour was that she’d been paid 500,000 Benjamins” would suggest that she received not five hundred thousand dollars, but fifty million ($50,000,000.00). For such extravagance, who wouldn’t undertake a similar confidence game?

  2. I have read most of the interesting comments above, the for and against of spending money the way it pleases the individual. What I will say is the fact that our spending habits as Nigerians is a very topical issue indicates that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed one way or the other. If there wasn’t a problem, then not as many people would delve into it. Personally while I agree that there are some legitimate hard working Nigerians out there who actually made their money the right way, they are indeed few and far between. I am a product of the oil boom in Nigeria, went to a ‘Euro’ public school, and now work in politics, most of my friends and associates have a similar background to mine, and I can tell you that most of them are not deserving of the exorbitant and luxurious lifestyle they live. I have been to most of the shows / concerts in Lagos, and yes 90% of the table buyers ( VIP), are children (now adults) of the lucrative careers in Nigeria (oil, politics, banking, government contracts, telecoms, etc), the remaining 10% are those that work in entertainment and get their table for free. As successful as Genevieve is for example, there is no way she will put down N1million on a table. It is clear therefore that there is a morale problem here, with so much poverty in the country it is only a sheer lack of consideration that justifies the excess spending mentality we have in Nigeria (particularly in Lagos and Abuja). What we need to do as the ‘haves’ in the country is show a collective will to make a better place to live for the have nots, after all majority that have, benefited in some capacity from the have nots! If we dedicated as much effort to assisting the have nots as we do to attending concerts, playing polo, buying champagne in clubs, throwing unnecessary grand parties, etc then Nigeria would be a better place and there will not be as much scrutiny in the way the rich spend their ill gotten money.

    • Fred, we need more people like you in this country. But in the meantime, please invite me when next you are “playing polo, buying champagne in clubs, throwing unnecessary grand parties, etc” LOL

    • @Fred…I love your reply, but at the same time, I am not mad at the rich, many rich people are very creative, hard working,educated etc. Yes, if you feel like, please invite me next time to play polo together, I will fly with plesure from California to Lagos:) lol

  3. Jeremy, your article is so on point. You have eloquently stated what I was trying to get across to some friends about a week ago – how Nigeria’s pretentious upper-middle and upper classes are the cause of most of our ills. Perhaps I should ask them to read this instead!

    Having said that, I wonder the way you must feel about this deep down inside. On the one hand, you rightly criticise the “cargo cult/import economy/colo-mentality,” but on the other hand, you are clearly a beneficiary of it! Even you must realise that some doors in Nigeria were opened to you because of the colour of your skin or your accent. And not just you, but several of those same people you castigate in your piece (Nigerians who have schooled or lived abroad and emphasize that in their accents, which they believe makes them “better” than Nigerians who have never been abroad).

    And one other thing. While your argument that “oil turns all who touch it completely insane” is plausible, I think a better inference is “undeserved power or wealth turn all who touch them insane”. Your country’s history is full of stories of people who did similar things in their time. But of course we never get to hear about these; it’s always we Africans that have issues (or the Chinese, or the Indians, or any other non-western group).

    Bottom line? The UK has been through similar nonsense. The only difference is you quickly built systems and structures to discourage such (like beheading kings). We are not there yet, but that does not mean you have always been there either.

  4. Very predictable for Nigerians to be in denial. You want to come here and spew some grammar right? The truth is the event did reek of true colonial mentality as Fela said. Yes Jeremy’s piece might have been a little harsh and off color but make no mistake, the larger context of his point was not missed at all at least by those not in denial. I Love how a couple of you here try to use similar examples of the UK and the US. What a joke. Thats why these foreign artists feel they can come in for less than 24hrs and get paid half a million dollars. They figure hey these dummies are so eager to brown nose so why not. Listen you have to crawl before you walk dummies. Your priorities are so all over the place. You’re a walking ball of irony its sad. Look yourself in the mirror and try to challenge the status quo from time to time. Kudos again to Jeremy for an insightful piece and don’t listen to these folks in denial. The truth is bitter but it has to be said.

  5. ok.. whether we, Nigerian agree to admit anything.. it is very insulting…. especially when (as one of the comments says) that we are in denial. yes the truth has to be said but then there are good people in this very generalized class of individuals. Also, n rather immaturely of me, but this just seems like a case of “haters gon’ hate”. From an outsiders perspective, this is a good thing that you have pointed and I would agree, but if a little back story is given to the relationship between Nigeria and some nearby countries, it would seem like (again,for lack of a better phrase) “haters gon’ hate”. Now im not saying anyone who wrote agrees or commented on this is hating. And maybe you all are good willed Africans. Thank you, but please even if its true, please do not make it so insulting when reporting such feeds and using terms that really have no business outside of Nigeria (like 419).

    • The very reasonn you are stuck on this your phrase is because you have been robbed if your abilithink laterally! Am so irritated that I can’t type! We are talking of institutionalized irresponsibility you are talking about “hating”…… I shake my head at you!

  6. One thing I KNOW and can’t be unconvinced of is that Nigerians are not ready to face reality and begin the evolution process. Yes, Jeremy might have been a bit extreme in his coloration of the situation, but the SALIENT truth is that there was a CON in there somewhere. We were conned by Jeremy’s forefathers, we are being conned by our so-called leaders and we’re still being conned by the likes of KK who doesn’t have any skill whatsoever besides being a reality show host and looking pretty. At least when the colonialists came and raped us, they wiped the bleeding and gave us some band-aid. They taught us how to better tap our resources, opened it up to the international market, brought us modern education….
    No one should be told how to spend his/her money but about 70pct of wealth gotten from this country is indirectly government based – that’s resources that should be used to build schools, roads, hospitals, airports. I’m babbling here and trying to make a point and I hope I’ve made a little. Jeremy might have been a bit extreme, inobjective right from the start especially with his title, but there’s a salient truth in his article.
    This is not the time when Nigerians should be living an artificial life and if at all you want to unwind, and spoil ourselves a little, we shouldn’t at this stage be raped by the likes of KK.

  7. Jay!! Wow.. i have had people sending me messages about your post and some are angry while some agree..

    At the time i got the comments i hadn’t read it.. Now that i have .. i totally agree with you.. although the title of your article is harsh and thus ingnites pain within my naija blood veins.. Having said that i was at the show (got 2 free 5k regular tickets).. fortunately or unfortunately i arrived after the KK’s 2 second stage appearance.. but alas as i made my way to the entrance i got complaint after complaint from different friends/acquaintances who had witnessed the 2 second appearance by her KKship.. Thus my comments will focus on the show that i saw..

    Darey or Dare cant sing to save his bacon.. He even jumped a line during his duet with a female singer (name i don'”t remember her name) whilst singing Diana Ross’ Endless love.. duh!!

    The show on the other hand was brilliant! High standard.. Every act on point.. Good strong choreography.. amazing acrobats.. amazing back-drop.. artistic.. 10/10 for the show, and production, good quality.. good sound quality comparable to a West-End show!!

    1. So did i care that Darey couldnt sing? NO.. it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the full package..
    2. Was KK necessary? No.. but Darey was clever.. KK’s name sold tickets.. Darey obviously got huge sponsorship hence he wouldn’t have been able to afford the rumoures 500K USD.. 3. Now going back to sponsors.. I blame the sponsors who are only too willing to dish money to any and every music show (or so it appears anyway) and yet will question to death any community based proposal thats placed in front of them!!!
    4. Darey wouldnt have spent a kobo of his money.. So his marketing mix worked! The pkace was packed, the VIP was sold out.. so i bet you he made some good returns…

    So alas.. Is it the blind leading the blind? Nah.. its a simple case of that old Yoruba adage ” gbo gbo’wa ni’lo eni tan mu ni barawo”, English: “we are all thieves,…those who get caught are the bandits”

    and on and on…

    To be frank, i was more enraged by the Classic FM/Maxwel concert the day before which i believe was a total embarrassment and Classic FM couldn’t organise a children’s party in an ice-cream factiory!!!! 3hours late and no apology!!! Chai..!!!

    Good for Darey and as for KK.. the girl’s got game and she’s gonna work it to death.. I’m only saddened that i dont have her gig.. ‘cos Lord knows my butt can out-jiggle hers any day!! LOL..

    Have a good day!!

  8. I have read this wonderful write-up and gleaned with some interest on some eloquent points raised in the follow-up comments. However, I am neither FOR nor AGAINST but wish to draw the attention of all, that in everything, there is the good and bad sides. merits and demerits, so you cant just castigate an event or an idea based on your own perception of it. It may be worthy of note that this event was solely sposored by responsible corporate orgarnisations whose sole aim is to maximize profit, and if they think that by bringing Kim K to Nigeria will do that for them, then so be it. Before you begin to scream that the money would have been used to help the poor and needy, please remember that all these corporate bodeis have social responsibilities, which they are living up to…you may visit their respective websites for details. As for your ‘Oil Money’, ‘Poor Standard of Living’, and not being able to pop champaigne or play golf…well, you may try holding your respective governments responsible (be it at the Local, State or Federal level) but mind you that they never contributed a dime to the event. And just an advice, stop hating yourself anytime someone spends so much of his money to relax in a way deems best because you never know what he went though, or is going through, to earn it…so please give the rich a break and make yours…afterall, life, they say, is short…

    • Franklyn, life is shorter for some – area boys, Northern children under 10, women, etc. – than others – Lekki kids, and what social structures and which habits of thought make that fact seem natural or ethically on the level is exactly what this post was about. I am still entirely unconvinced by this retreat toward the individual and how he or she earned/spends wealth. Are the Nigerian rich so self-involved to think that a little discomfort in “earning” wealth means they are unimplicated in the growing *structural* poverty that drags this country down? Franklyn you know there is a difference between poor standard of living and the question shall I pop some champaign tonight. It makes you sound callous and apathetic to talk of the two as if they were economic indicators of equal moral weight.

  9. Truth is we’re not there yet. Not with the Joneses yet. The whole lot of us as a society. It doesn’t matter that some folk say they’re middle class, upper middle centre or what rubbish. The society as a group is bush and is regarded as such. The earlier we know that and face areas where we can be respected on our own terms (sports, science & tech, arts & culture production etc) the better for us. Serious nations like Israel, Iran (contradictory?) don’t go inviting the Kardashians when they cant fix electricity or treat themselves medically. The Black elite doesn’t possess the work ethic of his Oyinbo counterpart but they want to better the Oyinbo elite in conspicuous consumption and shine shine.

  10. Why is the issue about ‘the rich’ ? did the organisers only invite ‘the rich’? is Dare Art Alade a ‘rich’ musician? what is wrong in inviting an ex-porno star to anchor the valentine day show …. love, like a movie?

  11. By the way… It should be noted that tickets to this event did not cost N100,000 “for the proles” as Jeremy Weate states. Regular tickets were priced at N5,000 (a third of the amount Jeremy paid to see Hugh Masekela).

  12. What’s it got to do with oil? Its an African stupidity. It’d happen in Nairobi, or Freetown. This thing is called “I need something to validate me…I am not sure of my realness”. But people like you and Michael Peel and Nicolas Shaxson, all British intellectuals, really, would tie everything to oil. There must be something I’m missing.

    • You said “What’s it got to do with oil? Its an African stupidity.”

      That makes it sound as if Africans have cornered the market on this kind of behaviour. I don’t think that’s the case. Remember the story of a high-ranking Chinese official’s son who died while racing and having sex at the same time? Well, that’s what happens when societies allow a minority to have access to unearned wealth and power. People everywhere are stupid, but people will control themselves when there are consequences for behaving stupidly. It’s not just Africans.

  13. Its good that kk just raped dare and few americanized fake Nigerians in a 419 scam
    See how the likes of 2face and Darey mumu themselves around Her. What is 2 special
    About her presenting @the event(colomentality-especially that Dare who want
    To speak like an american by all means

  14. I love when the comments explode like this. Ultimately this example is just a snapshot of behavior that exists on an every day basis in the moneyed enclaves of the world, whether Nigeria, South Africa, the U.S., or China, whether the enclaves are centered around oil, finance, or precious metals.

    I’m not sure if it’s still true, but NYC was until recently the most unequal city in the world. Every weekend, sons and daughters of hedge fund managers, bankers, and the like go to high-end clubs to drink $20 Red Bull+vodkas while shunning the beggar outside.

    Ikoyi Blindness, Chelsea Blindness, whatever you want to call it.. is it wrong? Maybe. But it’s not going anywhere, and addressing it from within one country is impossible. Unfortunately with the pathetic state of labor in Nigeria, the US, and elsewhere, the only way to hack at this excess of capitalism is through sabotage.

  15. “What we need to do as the ‘haves’ in the country is show a collective will to make a better place to live for the have nots, after all majority that have, benefited in some capacity from the have nots! If we dedicated as much effort to assisting the have nots as we do to attending concerts,

    Oga Fred i really like this you said, but my request is only if it’ll be extended to me, honestly i’ll be very glad

  16. You can afford 15K for an event. You Jeremy, are a men of the Nigerian elite. You don’t even reply normal Twitter users. It’s you and your ‘cabal’ more than half the time

  17. What is most shocking to me is that this is Kim Kardashian who we are talking about. The greatest number of Americans would not walk across the street to see her and care less what she might have to say, to say nothing of paying half a million USD fo rher presence.

  18. I am surprised by some of the comments here, clearly made by Nigerians who refuse to see and accept the truth no matter how harsh. I actually wrote a blogpost in response to this article, focusing on the Nigerian psyche, why and how this sort of thing is possible. I hope you find this interesting and informative. My hope is to spur debate, that more people begin to think deeply about such things so that in the not too distant future, we can see our wastefulness as the exception, rather than the norm. The issue isn’t so much that people spend money on what some call frivolities but that the source of said money is often less than clean or respectable… Anywhere, here’s the post

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